Unitarians advocate for gay rights

Assistant to the Editor

Members of First Unitarian Church of Chicago, 5650 S. Woodlawn Ave., will be traveling to Springfield next Tuesday, Oct. 22, to show their support for gay marriage.

The congregants will join others at the March on Springfield for Marriage Equality, scheduled to take place on the same day the Illinois General Assembly kicks off its fall veto session. One participant will be First Unitarian co-minister David Schwartz, who moved to Hyde Park last summer and began serving at the church in August with his wife, co-minister Teri Schwartz.

“I think civil marriage is a civil right, and it’s incumbent on me as a straight person, who’s been married for 12 years and enjoyed the benefits of marriage to make [it] possible for gays and lesbians as well,” Schwartz said.

He added that it’s “fundamental to me, the inherent worth and dignity of all people, and I can’t just sit at home believing that.”

Illinois’ Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act — which would make the state the country’s 14th to legalize gay marriage — passed earlier this year in the Senate but failed to receive the 60 House votes necessary to proceed to Gov. Pat Quinn for a signature.

A party of 16 had signed on to travel to Springfield, as of Herald press time, according to First Unitarian congregant Cindy Pardo. A past president of the church’s board, Pardo approached Schwartz about participating in Tuesday’s action several weeks ago.

“It is very clear that Unitarian Universalists support marriage equality across the country. It is one of the big pieces pieces of social justice work that the national association works on,” Pardo said.

In addition to next Tuesday’s trip to the capital, First Unitarian will be hosting a phone bank today, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Participants armed with a cell phone and laptop will be able to forward supporters of gay marriage to their representatives, where they may leave a message voicing their opinion.

“The idea here is to get supporters of marriage equality talking to other supporters to let their representatives know there’s widespread support out there for marriage equality,” Schwartz said.